Creating a marketing plan for your nonprofit can be a lot of work, especially if you’re on a small team. However, it’s critical to promote your event and build marketing campaigns around your fundraising initiatives.
Raising awareness for your cause without a marketing and promotion plan can be difficult. Lacking a plan can also present challenges in attracting donors to your fundraisers, which are central to completing your missions.
How, then, can you spread the word about your event in a way that resonates with current and potential donors? According to our Fundraising Event Expectation Study, most donors are likely to attend a fundraising event that they heard about from someone else.
Here are seven new ways to connect with donors to promote your event:
1. Host a happy hour or tailgate.
Hosting small events like happy hours, potlucks, dance parties, art exhibitions, open mic nights, or tailgates a great way to build community. This gives your supporters a chance to get to know one another and build relationships in a casual environment. If you host a small community event after gala invitations have already gone out, your signature event becomes a great talking point and common denominator for everyone. When one person asks the group, “are you going to the big gala this year? We had a great time last year!” It’s likely to encourage others to follow suit. Check out some more creative fundraising campaign ideas here.
2. Format your emails to have a personal touch.
Whether you have a service that manages your listserv or you send individual emails from your personal Gmail account, keep it personal! Donors are more likely to respond to personal emails than newsletters or e-blasts. It makes sense: we would all rather be addressed as an individual than one of the masses, right? And remember to send follow-ups 😉
3. Make a video.
Video and photo content have further reach across social platforms, so consider incorporating photos and videos among your posts on Facebook and Instagram. Record one of your staff (or a few volunteers!) talking about the upcoming event. Show donors your passion and excitement. It doesn’t have to be fancy or have high production value as long as the message is strong! In fact, unedited, selfie-style videos are popular right now (read: TikTok). This offers your team a good amount of flexibility as these videos are free and easy to experiment with.
4. Text your donors.
Texting your donors about upcoming events is a surefire way to get great open rates. However, you want to be mindful of texting as it is a very personal way to communicate. In certain situations, it can be expected; texting is already happening nonstop with mobile bidding and donating platforms during events and campaigns. When you’re texting to promote events and campaigns (outside of the event atmosphere), it must be done sparingly and tastefully. Including a link that takes them to the registration page is even better, so that when you catch them in the moment, they can quickly register.
5. Know your donors’ demographics and meet them where they are.
Chances are your donors span different generations, so be sure to cover all your bases in terms of reaching them on the platforms they use. For example, Millennials are more likely to learn about your event on Facebook than other generations. However, knowing where the majority of your donors fall is a great way to channel your focus and resources when it comes to a marketing plan. If social media seems overwhelming, set up a platform manager that allows you to schedule posts in advance. There are some good low-cost and free options, such as Hootsuite.
6. Press the press.
Sure, press releases are great, but don’t forget about your local publications and stations! They’ll often give your event or organization a free shout out or a listing in an “upcoming events” section. You can even think beyond your local paper; consider neighborhood publications, school newsletters, church newsletters, high school radio, college television, etc. Be creative and consider these outlets for recruiting new volunteers and donors.
7. Speak locally.
Attend town halls, grocery store information tables, a booth at the farmer’s market, or the local high school football game. Show people that your organization exists, present your mission and plug your event. Personal invites are incredibly powerful when securing event guests. You can also ask volunteers to help spread the word and offer incentives (e.g. for every gala ticket they sell, perhaps they can go in a drawing for gala tickets or prizes).